Monday, November 20, 2006


Before I tackle the more general topic of the decline of television … I shall rant firstly about children’s television. As the father of a 4-year-old, I only get a few moments per week of control of the remote and I try to reserve them for an occasional sports event.

When I was a kid, if you missed your favorite kids show, you missed it – plain and simple. Now in the age of VCRs, DVRs, Recordable DVDs, and “On-Demand” cable … the kids can watch their favorite shows whenever they want. And in theory this is good. When I was young, I remember the hell we put our parents through trying to rush them through the Friday night supermarket trip to get home in time for The Brady Bunch.

What an innocent time, when kids’ prime time TV favorite was the story of a semi-functional step family … headed by the only architect in the world who would choose to raise six kids in a three-bedroom house.

I learned two great life lessons watching this show …

First … thanks to Greg

When mom finds cigarettes in your jacket pocket, be thankful she didn’t dig further and unearth the condoms.

And second … thanks to Marcia

When catching a football pass above the shoulders, one must place his/her thumbs together, and watch the ball into your hands ... otherwise one’s nose might be fractured.

But even with all the recordable options today, the kids still want the DVDs of the shows … episodes they have seen hundreds of times mind you, or could access through ‘On-Demand’ … but at $14-$20 a pop, the kids want what the kids want!

Like grown-up TV, kids TV has suffered from the expansion of available television channels. The vast quantity of stations has spawned a quality vacuum as the air time must be filled with something … anything … to get those little buggers to watch … preferably something that one can use to market teeth-rottening sweetened cereals … or better yet … the merchandising of the show itself.

Queen of the 30-minute commercial / kid’s shows is “Dora the Marketing Opportunity Explorer.”

From blankets to books to crayons to clothes … Dora is the Martha Stewart of Kids World. My child has Dora toys, cups, shirts, pajamas and of course … a backpack.

But let’s examine this show a little.

Dora is praised by children's tv critics and by educators, for teaching kids Spanish. She is clearly Mexican, much to the slight of our Cuban and Puerto Rican Spanish-speaking Americans. One of her gang is always “swiping” things. How does that go down as a stereotypical portrail of the Spanish-speaking community in this, our supposedly enlightened age of political correctness?

Dora engages in adventures that always require her to traverse three obstacles (with the aid of a talking map – I see an opening for some cross marketing with Garmin GPS inc.) She makes her audience repeat those three obstacles with her … For example ..

“To get to the prize (maybe a job as a migrant fruit picker) we have to get past the Rio Grande River …. The border patrol … and Fear-mongering Republicans … Say it with me … Rio Grande River … border patrol … fear-mongering republicans!”

Dora was so popular that she launched a spin-off of more adventures with her male cousin Diego ... thus furthering the angst of people like Pat Buchanan ... promoting xenophobia ... that once one gets in, they'll bring in their relatives!

Another extrememly popular kids’ show is “The Wiggles” … An Aussie quartet of cheesy musicians who sing kids songs about fruit salad. These four 30-40-something single males like kids a lot and I know I am not supposed to, but I find that a little frightening. They hang around with a pirate and a dinosaur (who doesn’t?) and dress in their own solid color, looking a bit like outback Starfleet Academy rejects.

Musically simple and kid friendly, the Wiggles are a sort of preschool Beatles (the nice ones - before they grew their hair long). I suppose that leaves ... in the Rolling Stones (bad boy) role ... the Doodlebops ... who are musically more original and even let their bus driver do the rap parts. I know I am looking at a lifetime of therapy for admitting this, but I can't help nut find DeeDee Doodle a little attractive in a "I wonder what she looks like under the face paint and chalky foam skin?" kind of way.

Then, there's "The Little Einsteins" This Disney channel favorite, features four kids who fly all over in a rocket ship. There are two females and two males (one of whom is black - thus meeting the P.C. requirement - although only the white male gets to drive the rocket).

These four imps set off on fantastic adventures where each episode has a featured classical composer and an artist. What that has to do with Einstein is beyond me. I never heard Einstein's "Quantum Concerto in MC squared minor" for example. I suppose they'll come up with a kid's show about science and call it "Little Mozarts"?

Perhaps even more disturbing to me is the friekish familiarity that the Leo character invokes ... as if he is someone else from another time ... someone I knew and trusted as a youth. Could it be? I'm not sure but ... perhaps if I jumped into my 'way-back' machine, I could go back to the children's TV of my youth and see that Leo is infact, the 3rd millenium incarnation of Sherman!

Another favorite program of my 4-year-old is "Bear in the Big Blue House" ... although you have to get up with the farmers these days for its (6 AM) airing on Playhouse Disney. Bear is a likeable fellow. I am always slightly squirmish when TV teaches pre-schoolers that bears and other ferocious animals are really just big friendly teacher types.

"Bear" did release a very popular and effective home video aid for toilet/potty training ... where the characters all sing that they are "toiletteers"! ... thus eternally confusing our youngsters to the question ... "does a bear shit in the woods?" - Not unless he has a potty out there.

It's amazing how the innocently delivered sub-messages of kids' shows can serve to confuse us well into our school years. I remember when I was in first grade, thinking that ... in terms of chronological history ... the caveman days must have come after colonial times ... because the Flintstones were cavemen, yet they had cars, record players, bowling alleys etc. whilst the colonials wrote with feathers by candlelight.

Another program that baffles me is "Caillou" ... the inquistively whining milquetoast chemotherapy-looking, bald kid, with the wimpy enabler parents. They give this kid a first name (pronounced "Kie-you") that sounds like a cajun word for "let the playground beatings begin" and if that's not enough to ensure misfit status, they give him less hair than Charlie Brown.

Although Americans must take the blame for the origins of the most irritating tv character (no, not Bill O'Reilly) ... I talk of course of Barney ... the mainstays of irritating kids characters comes from England. They of course gave us The Teletubbies, Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine.

However, the Brits also gave us one of the most enduring classics in Winnie the Pooh. Brits were rightfully beside themselves when Disney purchased the rights to Pooh from the family of A.A. Milne.

Though waning in popularity ... "so last year" according to most preschoolers ... "Sponge Bob" continues to irk parents on a daily basis. The so-called multi-level humor - ie, a portion of the humor that will go over the heads of the kids, but can be appreciated by the parents - is in the mold of "Ren & Stimpy" ... but at least "Ren & Stimpy" were targeted to adults first and kids second, unlike our porous, sea-faring, absorbant, bottom-feeding friend.

And inevitably of course, there's "Boo Bah"

Teaching our children, the ins and outs ... of what is essentially a boob box acid trip ... these rotund furry carbon-based globules of existence, streak across the sky, leaving colorful trails and communicating in some sort of squeek language under the guise of children's educational television. Somewhere in the dark recesses of the creator's mind, lies a freudian nightmare laced with laudnum induced apocalyptic visions ... sort of Jim Henson meets Colonel Walter E. Kurtz.

Sesame Street continues on. Though I was just a tad too old to be into the 'Street' when it premiered, it is still recognized as the leader in preschool educational TV. Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood is still being aired though I am pretty sure Fred Rogers has gone to that big cardigan-wearing magic kingdom in the sky, which is a little difficult to explain to a 4-year-old.

By the way, here is a little trivia you can use at your next cocktail soiree ... Fred Rogers was born in Latrobe, PA. ... the same town that gave us Rolling Rock beer ... which is kind of 'sneakers and old sweater' brew ... watered-down and harmless ... but still ... in a weird and twisted kind of way .. it's kind of a strange coincidence ...max respect Mr. R.!

While I doubt Fred actually ever downed a six of 'ponies' ... at least he didn't hail from Intercourse, PA.

But of the children's TV of my (late baby boomer) generation, what's wrong with showing the kids the classics ... the gratuitously violent, non-educational, mind-numbingly simple, child-occupying drivel that I loved so much? I speak of Top Cat, Sylvestor the Cat, Tom & Jerry, Felix the Cat, Josie and the Pussycats (I had an early feline fixation) ... not to mention Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, The Wacky Racers, Prince Planet, Speed Racer, Astroboy, Aquaman et al.

For non-animated classics, we had 'Juvenile Jury' (Insert your own OJ joke here).

There was also Captain Kangaroo, though I personally didn't dig the Captain. As a child of the late 60's I was far more into the groovy "Romper Room" where (belive it or not) an oversized bumble bee (waiting for a break in Mexican TV no doubt) called "Mr. Doobie" ... aided the scary Orwellian hostess (Miss Sally) to look through a glassless mirror to (as she claimed) SEE through the TV and see who was watching her! Oh FREAK me out and instill a lifetime of issues on me why don't ya!

Kids' TV today is too commercial-driven to be creative but the multimedia availability is something I would have loved to have had as a kid. Now as a parent I can only long for the day when my child outgrows this tripe and uses the TV what it's meant for ... the XBox!

Can it be long before Kids 'reality' TV comes along? Rumer has it that PBS is developing a potty training reality show called "Poop Idol".

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I was watching TV the other night and saw a commercial for some new medication for something that sounded serious … “RLS”!

They went on to explain that RLS was “restless leg syndrome.”


Oh come on now! The pharmaceutical companies are just flat out making shit up now to sell more drugs to more people who are too stupid for their own good. The makers (GlaxoSmithKline) of this new wonder drug (“Requip”) are an otherwise reputable pharmaceutical giant. (Although that is a bit like saying someone is an honest lawyer or a trustworthy politician).

Unfortunately these corporate pharma behemoths are so over-invested in so many drugs that will never get FDA approval, much less show any signs of effectiveness, that now they have taken to flat out making shit up just to get a drug on the market… just to pay for the research of the 99% of the drugs that … in the words of the Verve … “don’t work.”

These multinational drug companies KNOW that America is the place to sell this crap because face it … Americans will buy anything that sounds like an easy solution.

Restless legs? Try some exercise. You drive your car to the end of the driveway just to get your mail and maybe pop out for some drive through at the local Krispy Kreme. Your legs are restless because you only use them to form a lap for holding your array of salted fatty couch potato snacks.

OK … So MAYBE … there are people who have just a slight tingling in their legs and it’s a TAD annoying at times. This drug is not just recommended (by GlaxoSmithKline) for severe sufferers … nooooooo …. Where’s the money in that? It’s also available for moderate sufferers of tingly legs.

The ‘condition’ is described as “chronic” – the favorite word of pharmas and hypochondriacs alike. Chronic means basically, that the ‘condition’ just won’t go away – without (expensive) medication – or exercise of course, but pharmas don’t own a share of Bally’s … so that’s out.

Now before you go commenting about your Auntie or neighbor who ‘suffers’ from this malady … stop and consider this …

And this is a direct quote from the
Requip official website:

“Requip may cause you to fall asleep or feel sleepy while doing normal activities such as driving; or to faint or feel dizzy, nauseated or sweaty when you stand up from sitting or lying down. If you experience these problems, talk to your doctor. Tell your doctor if you drink alcohol or are taking other medicines that make you drowsy. Side effects include nausea, drowsiness, vomiting and dizziness. Most patients were not bothered enough to stop taking Requip.”

Where do I start?

Well first this sounds like nothing but a sleeping tablet. Of course your legs don’t bother you when you’re in a deep drug-induced sleep. You’re so drowsy you can’t be bothered to stop taking it? Not lucid enough to make intelligent decisions it sounds like me!

And even if you do ‘suffer’ from restless legs, I can only speak for intelligent people when I say … weighing restless legs against nausea, vomiting drowsiness and dizziness, I’ll live with the leg tingles thank you very much.

By the way … “RLS” should not be confused with the fatal disease known as
“ALS” (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). This disease is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lou Gehrig was a famous baseball player. Did you know that he actually caught AND died from Lou Gehrig’s disease? WHAT are the odds of THAT happening? They must be astronomical!

Getting back to RLS … It is just one of countless ‘syndromes’ that ‘doctors’ have ‘discovered’ in recent years. These so-called syndromes are not new… just giving them a name is new. You see if you give something a name, then it can be blamed. And our society has made it its raison d’etre to be personally blameless and eternal victims. This is the easier road to travel than actually taking responsibility for our own actions and well-being.

There are lots of new ‘syndromes’ now being marketed, and almost downright trendy to have. Not surprisingly, these new names are generally introduced along with another new name …the name of the wonder-drug invented and designed to fight off the evil … and perform a money-ectomy from the invalids who until recently, did not know they were sufferers!

Maybe you’re a martyr who carries the cross of ‘male pattern hair-loss’? When I was a kid we called this going bald.

Having bad breath doesn’t sound sympathetic. So we are inflicted with halitosis!

Your colon is not inflamed! NO. That could sound like your fault. You are burdened with diverticulitis!

How about the millions of yuppies being tortured with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? These people can also say they are victims of narcolepsy. Oh please … just once … let someone who works for me call in sick with this one!

What was that trendy malady about a decade ago called? Juan Epstein or Roseanne Barr virus or some such? OK, I know Epstein Barr virus is actually a herpesvirus that is the causative agent of infectious mononucleosis. It is also associated with various types of human cancers.

But none-the-less, it became the must-have trendy illness of the”I’ve-spent-all-my-money-on-plastic-surgery-and-now-need-a-real-doctor” upper class snots. Personally I’d have liked to vaccinate them all with a nice shot of bubonic plague.

By the way, did you know the symptoms of bubonic plague (aka Yersinia pestis) include: nausea, drowsiness, vomiting and dizziness? – The same as the list of side effects for that restless leg syndrome medicine?

Boxers used to be called ‘punchy’ or ‘punch drunk’. Now they all suffer from post-concussion syndrome.

Enough is enough. The use of euphemisms … spurred by the imposed political correctness of those who fear their very existence offends somebody … has created such a surreal madness that we’ve lost touch with what real illness is. Some might say this blog is belittling the needs and pains of real sufferers. I say it’s quite the opposite. It is lumping the every day whimperings of feigned illness in with real suffering, that belittles the real suffering.

I mean it’s bad enough that medical science chooses such bizarre unsympathetic names for legitimate ailments. I can’t imagine I’d be thrilled if I had the shakes and the doctor diagnosed me with ‘St. Vitus Dance’. That sounds like a Friday night event when I was in high school – Who am I going to take to the St Vitus Dance?

I do not lack sympathy for people with real medical conditions. And there have been recently discovered NEW ones …. AIDS, Sars, Ebola Virus, Mad-Asian-Cow-Bird-Flu etc.

But that’s just my point. By speaking of these real (often fatal) diseases in the same breath as
these made-up chronic conditions, just serves to legitimize those daily bellyaches as ‘real’ medical problems. This is being done as one of the largest unspoken, unchallenged conspiracies among the pharma companies of the world.

Their marketing strategy – though you won’t find this in any of their ‘mission statements’ is apparently based on this one thought.

If we can’t find cures for real and fatal, or life-altering afflictions, then we will find (and market) cures for things we can find cures for, no matter how irrelevant or real these ‘infirmities’ may be.

Can’t afford a syndrome? That’s ok … we have plenty of ‘disorders’ you can suffer from.

There are learning disorders, personality disorders, sleeping disorders, anxiety disorders. Take your pick. You can have an attention disorder, repetitive motion disorder, repetitive strain disorder, an oppositional defiant disorder or a disassociative disorder (used to be known as having multiple personalities).

There are all sorts of eating disorders out there to choose from too. But they are only for people who don’t eat enough. Our morbidly obese nation wouldn’t stand for it if we considered it to be a disorder to stuff our big (halitosis yielding) slobbering mouths with salty deep-fried, artery choking, nutritionally-challenged meals from out fast food institutions!

Maybe our bad backs and stem from the fact that as a nation we are grossly overweight? – Just a thought.

Oh the pain suffered by those with carpal tunnel syndrome! (sore wrists essentially). Those damned computers! They cause my migraines from staring at the screen, they cause me to go cross-eyed (aka Strabismus – give that a name so you can offer a marketable cure) … and now they make my wrist hurt. I quite literally believe these sore wrist sufferers might be suffering from “I wank too much disorder” Or “I just want to call in sick today syndrome.”

You can’t honestly tell me, that tip tapping away at today’s ‘ergonomic’ computer keyboards does more harm than was caused back in the day when a secretary’s desk had no computer, but rather a large, hard and stiff manual type writer.

We’ve become a nation of out-of-shape, whining hypochondriac wimps! America was founded on the (sore) backs of real laborers who proudly displayed a real work ethic. It’s only once the snake oil salesmen of the Wild West organized themselves (into what we call in the modern day –“pharmaceutical companies’) that our mal du jour society emerged as a nation of namby pamby milquetoast mama’s boys with a demand for softer facial tissues.

Our country has become home to a bunch of sniveling, sniffling office toady, service-industry desk-ridden computer jockeys who can’t so much sneeze without running to the pharmacy … the one in the supermarket so we can get more snacks … for the latest OTC (over-the-counter) remedy that merely attacks symptoms not causes.

Hey that sounds familiar! Attack the symptoms and not the causes. Why that’s been the platform of every administration since Taft hasn’t it? I mean why address why terrorists hate us (or why everyone hates us for that matter) based on our self-indulgent policies when we can declare a war on something? (War on terrorism, war on drugs, war on poverty).

Wars make us feel good. While our blubbery teletubby bodies are pampered with fast food and fast relief medicines … we can feel good about our weak conditions by collectively flexing the one muscle we have left … our gadget driven military machine. We can watch on the All-War channel (CNN) as America wins wars (though suffering 1,000 times the casualties after the ‘victory’, than during the actual conflict).

If we spent a tenth of what we are spending in Iraq and Afghanistan on research into (REAL) medical problems, we could solve many of them and still have money left over to fund a workable health care system and provide health insurance for all.

But no. The political powers that be would have to tackle some of their tough/staunch (right wing) stances … on stem cell research for example.

Our brave lads (and I DO support our troops whether I agree with why they’ve been deployed) can look forward to surviving the conflict so later in life they can join the American Legion. (And get legionnaires disease no doubt).

War on drugs? Hey let’s face it. The ‘war’ on drugs has been a farcical exercise is wasting money and filling prisons … with no chance for ‘victory’. If you want to rage a real war on drugs, I feel it is not the street/black-market/illegal drug market we should examine. It is the so-called legitimate (prescription) drug market that is far more a threat. Their drugs are just as addictive (if not more so) and their associated dependence is not only supported by the government but they count on it to feed to ever-growing medical-legal-pharmaceutical triangular trade and also of course … we have to please the share holders.

We block the importation of cheaper drugs (from Canada for example) and prolong the wait for generics while our older citizens, who need some (but probably not all) of the drugs they have been prescribed are being bankrupted by the failures of Medicare Medicaid.

The answer is simple enough. Drug companies should not be permitted to pass on ALL their research costs collectively into the pricing of the drugs they manage to get approved. Their research should be classified into two categories … 1) REAL life threatening or suffering conditions and 2) Cosmetic or superficial drugs (IE Rogaine, Propecia etc.)

The costs of researching drugs designed to ‘cure’ life’s little nuisances should be spent at the Pharmaceuticals’ expense and risk.

You may be inclined to counter with the argument that you are not overweight … and actually have a gym membership. Would that be the lifetime gym membership you shelled out a gazillion dollars for and went to the gym as many times in the first month as you have in the three years that followed? Or maybe you bought some home gym equipment? You know that over-sized bench with lots of chrome and rubbery things that takes up a whole room and is essentially being used as a $1500 clothes hanger.

Even those who DO exercise are doing so to see and be seen as to actually following a sensible cardiac routine.

“Gotta look good dude … work the abs!”

We are also a nation of fad dieters. To name but a FEW … there are:

Dr. Dean Ornish: Eat More, Weigh Less, The Good Carbohydrate Revolution, The Pritikin Principle, Dr. Shapiro's Picture Perfect Weight Loss, Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan, Fit for Life, The South Beach Diet, Cambridge Diet, Slim-Fast Diet, Neutrisystems, Dexatrim Natural, Hydroxycut, Metabolife 356, Eat Right For Your Type: The Blood Type Diet, Macrobiotics, Mayo Clinic Diet, and of course … Suzanne Somers' Somersizing.

Yes I want to gamble my future health on the wisdom of Chrissy Snow’s nutritional expertise. I’d be better off letting Jack Tripper cook for me while Mr. Roper slips me a mickey down at the Regal Beagle.

I remember a few years ago, it was trendy to watch the (saturated and non-saturated) fats. It was all about the fats. Now it’s carbs man. “Gotta watch the carbs.”


“Cause it’s trendy dude – don’t you read People Magazine?”

In the immortal words of Fernando (aka Billy Crystal) … “It’s better to look good than to feel good.”

We’ve coddled our children. We can’t let them outside. God forbid we let them walk outside (and get some exercise) anywhere – that’s what the gas-guzzling minivan is for. Anything outside of sleeping, we require them to wear a helmet and knee pads. We’re WIMPS!

Our kids are seeing an alarming increase in rates of allergies and asthma. Could this have something to do with the fact that we never let them outside to get anywhere near a ragweed until they’re in their pre-teens (and then, only whilst wearing an approved helmet of course). Instead we keep them inside, in the hopes that all their X-Box playing will strengthen their carpal tunnels, before they have to grow up and do office work.

The world of physical illnesses seems to have taken a page from the realm of mental illness.
Again, I am not denying the existence of real mental illness, but it has been the practice of psychiatry (since the times of Sigmund Fraud) to label all mental conditions.

By giving every mental condition a name, there is something to blame. Therefore we are “not guilty by reason of __________ [fill in your preferred mental illness here].”

By defining ‘clinical depression’ for example, we can leave open the door of vagueness that separates this from just “having the blues.” And ($$ - ‘Ca-CHING’ - $$ !) we can therefore market a whole array of ‘pick-me-ups’ from mothers’ little helpers to ginseng green tea.

Let’s consider bipolar disorder for one. It used to be known as manic depression. But depression can sound self-induced and we don’t want you to blame yourself. Try this new drug instead!

Manic depression IS serious. But it’s sooo yesterday. Let’s get the boys in ‘creative’ to come up with something … a syndrome of some sort …otherwise, how can we sell a new drug. Maybe the lads can come up with something ‘sexy’ … something like … “Bi-Polar Disease … THIS is not your FATHER’s manic depression!”

The mental health industry – and that’s just what it is – an industry … does help many people (stay out of jail). But though there are no known statistics for this, I would estimate that at least one out of every two people, currently in some form on psychological therapy would be an otherwise normal and functioning member of society were it not for the ‘cool’ aspect of being IN therapy amongst LA and New York socialites and also the acceptance that we as a society have allowed for ourselves not to take responsibility for our own happiness. We dish out blame like pork chops at a Baptist picnic.

I don’t want to even address tourette’s syndrome. All the good jokes on the topic have already been done. I do have one question though. Is ‘TS’ only suffered in the English speaking world? Or are there victims also shouting curses uncontrollably in Swahili? What about in Cherokee or Faroese? – Just a thought.

Still don’t think the pharmas are just trying to sell you anything for the sake of making a few bucks?

Maybe you’ve called the operator (who was ‘standing by’) to order some Garlique! Let’s see … garlic is good for you …there isn’t any in a big mac though …so let’s grind it up into tablet form! We can call it ‘Garlique’ (c’est chic).

Americans love tablets more than Moses did.

So beyond the “consult your physician” meds (you know – the ones you need to [talk your doctor into giving you] a prescription for) … and then beyond the OTC (over-the-counter/non-prescription remedies) there lies a quasi-medicinal world of the “all natural” panaceas.

These are generally the ones you hear on sports-talk radio ads, or more prominently receive in your “junk” (spam) folder in your email. These herbal wonders promise me a bigger penis and a smaller wallet. They promise to cure everything from athlete’s foot to nervous ticks.

For those who prefer NOT to turn themselves into drug-ingesting slaves to the pharma gods … there are self help books. Of course, unless YOU wrote the book yourself …it is not technically SELF help now is it? We are addicted to these books as a nation, more than to drugs I think. Everything from “Ventriloquism for Dummies” to “I’m OK, You’re a Moron.”

I suppose I have to address pre-menstrual syndrome. Ladies, I am NOT denying the existence
of cramps, pains and mood swings. I have witnessed them and I am a believer. My point is though, that women have been suffering period pains … well …since Eve I suppose. It’s only in this generation that we gave them a more serious sounding name. I credit our British cousins however, who refer to it as PMT (pre-menstrual tension) since ‘tension’ allows the implication to exist that all in the household (not just the period barer) can suffer from the tension. Calling it a ‘syndrome’ seems to imply it’s not normal, when in fact, it is.

Popular usage has actually even turned this ‘syndrome’ into a verb … as in “I’m PMSing.”

I’d be remiss (though less long-windedly pedantic) if I didn’t address the latest “discovery” of medical science. How often have you been standing around the water cooler, when some colleague hasn’t said, “They can put a man on the moon. You’d think they could come up with some way to cure my erectile dysfunction!”

In one of the most bizarre events I’ve ever witnessed, I was watching the World Cup in 2002 (bizarre in itself that I as an American was watching soccer) and I saw a commercial for an Erectile Dysfunction medicine … and the spokesman in the commercial was none other than Brazilian soccer legend … PELE!

How hard have the times been for Pele that he would disregard his god-like status in the macho world of soccer (OK football) to do ads for ‘ED’? How much did they have to pay him? The question that sprang immediately to my mind was … “did all those amazing ‘bicycle’ kicks cause Pele a problem that we weren’t previously aware of?

First on the market was of course Viagra (Pfizer). But also a quick riser (pun intended) on the market was Cialis (Eli Lilly).

In the
Cialis ad, … they actually say:

"The most common side effects with CIALIS were headache and upset stomach. Backache and muscle ache were also reported, sometimes with delayed onset. Most men weren't bothered by the side effects enough to stop taking CIALIS. As with any ED tablet, in the rare event of priapism (an erection lasting more than four hours), seek immediate medical help to avoid long-term injury. In rare instances, men taking prescription ED tablets (including CIALIS) reported a sudden decrease or loss of vision. It's not possible to determine if these events are related directly to the ED tablets or to other factors. If you have a sudden decrease or loss of vision, stop taking any ED tablet and call your doctor right away."

Headache? Isn’t that usually the number one excuse NOT to have sex? Backache? That’ll come from the too much sex I’d imagine.

A FOUR HOUR ERECTION? Believe me; my doctor is NOT going to be the first person I consult. I can barely find 15 extra minutes in my day to read the newspaper. What am I going to do with a four hour erection? Oh … and whose “long term injury” am I trying to avoid? Mine or hers?

As for the loss of vision … I highly recommend selecting your sexual partner before the onset of blindness or God knows WHAT you’ll end up in bed with. In fact this kind of sounds like the same side effect as in beer.

Here are my top ten predicted –“Soon To Be Made Up Syndromes” the pharmas will unleash upon us any day now:

10) CDS (chronic disorder syndrome) – Sufferers of every known ailment on the planet (and a few unknown ones) will be relieved when “fukitol” hits the drug store shelves.

9) CDD (chronic disorder dysfunction) – Similar to CDS, only called this name by a rival pharmaceutical company, at least until the patent lawsuit is settled.

8) CDDS (chronic disorder dysfunction syndrome) This is a rare and really SERIOUS case of basically any guy who just can’t – for whatever reason - get his shit together.

7) Gonorrhea Ear – An inner ear venereal infection brought infection brought on by practicing unsafe phone sex. 6) Vitas Gerulaitis – A newly discovered form of tennis elbow, acquired only when using one of the ‘70’s tennis rackets. You know, the ones actually smaller than a garbage can lid that players today use.

5) Staying Home In the Toilet Syndrome: “Can’t come in to work today boss. I got the S.H.I.T.S.”

4) Carpool Tunnel Syndrome – Anxiety brought on from a carful of smelly co-workers while stuck in traffic in a claustrophobic traffic tunnel.

3) Soccer Mom Rage Disorder – Anxiety brought on when all the other kids’ moms are driving a new minivan, and you’re still picking the kids up in the '74 AMC wagon.

2) Wonky Mammillatosis – The effect, soon to be appearing as young women who had breast augmentation surgeries approach middle age.

1) Irritable Vowel Syndrome – (AKA Pat Sajak’s Disease). Symptoms include an uncontrollable
desire to insert vowels into Czech and Polish surnames like Czyzchky or Wlykvtlcz. The national spokesperson will be Vanna “buy a vowel” White herself.

I am going to lie down now and rest before writing any more gives me carpal tunnel tennis elbow. And I fear I am starting dyslexia a case to develop of. I’ve probably lost you several paragraphs ago due to your attention deficit disorder – Not to be confused with George W. … suffers from ‘paying attention to the deficit disorder’.

I’ll probably have that recurring nightmare where I am suffering from The China Syndrome.

I hope my sleep apnea and deviated septum don’t prevent my wife from getting some rest. It probably won’t since I’m sure she’s ingested something today that ‘may cause drowsiness.’

I want a New Drug!

Fukitol credited to -

Thursday, June 29, 2006


The airline industry is quite simply, the most sadistic industry in the world.

From the time you pass the last “smoking allowed” zone in the airport, until the time you exit your arrival airport, you are constantly bombarded with “NO SMOKING.”

Your pilot or flight attendant will tell you that smoking is a violation of federal laws and that smoking in the toilet is banned and that there is a smoke alarm in there and that if you remove the battery or otherwise disable the smoke detector, you are also a federal criminal.

OK … I get it … No Smoking!

But THEN … a quick look around shows you … that rather than pay to remove such items … the airlines have left the ashtrays in all the armrests. The smoking/no smoking light … next to the fasten your seatbelts light … is still in place on the ceiling of each cabin … additionally teasing you and reminding you that you may not smoke now …but had it been years ago – different story.

But here’s the kicker … so then what do the airlines do? They convert their flight crew into meandering sales people. It’s weird to think this ditzy stew … or effeminate steward …who has been trained to save my life in the (unlikely) event that the plane will land in water …that this person now must meet his/her duty-free sales quota.


So if I can’t smoke …PLEASE don’t come down the aisle with your trolley of over-priced teddy bears, Armani-Gucci-Prada leather-bound personal planners and souvenir model airplanes, and then have the audacity to sell me discounted cartons of cigarettes!

Not sadistic enough for you? What other industry would require you to pay attention to their hackneyed safety pantomime … where they point out ALL the exit doors … and then just open ONE door when you land so that it takes 45 minutes to get off the damned thing, while every jag off in front of you de-wedges their tuba case-sized “carry-on” out of the overhead?

If you had the window seat, this means anyone over 4 feet tall is standing for 45 minutes with their head at a jaunty angle … giving you a neck cramp guaranteed to last you the first half of your vacation!

It all starts with booking your flight. Whether you do so online, through a travel agent or at the airport itself, you pay some arbitrary price, knowing no two passengers have paid the same price for their seats, though all will arrive at the same time (barring any “unlikely” event).

And though you have paid in full, this does not guarantee you a window seat, an aisle seat, the bulkhead seat … well for that matter any seat! You can still get bumped, since it is common “accepted” practice in the airline industry to overbook.

If the plane holds 200 passengers, there is nothing stopping the airlines from selling 300 tickets. Do the math. Can anyone else get away with this? Could your favorite football team sell 70,000 tickets for a stadium that holds 50,000 people?

Once, on a flight from Kansas City to Pittsburgh, rather than be bumped, I agreed to take the jump seat … not knowing what the “jump seat” meant other than being assured it did not involve me having to clip on a rope overhead and then bail out when the green light went on.

The jump seat is essentially a seat at the front of the cabin which folds up to the wall when not in use and faces the rest of the passengers. I asked if this is usually used by the crew and they said yes but that flight attendant would sit elsewhere (the floor?) during landing. I was tempted to offer to allow the flight attendant to sit on my lap during take-off and landing - you know – for her safety but whilst my first imaginations conjured up visions of …

Or …

Or even …

And I realize I am now just posting gratuitous sexy stewardess photos for no redeeming comedic value, but what the heck – I already downloaded them.

Or even …

I quickly realized that I would most likely get an involuntary turbulence-induced lap dance from the likes of …

Or worse yet …

Speaking of which … whatever happened to the image of the eager-to-please, gorgeous, nympho-ditzy stewardess? Yes Mr. Left-Wing, Bleeding-Heart Politically-Correctoid, I said STEWARDESS – not “flight attendant.” What’s next? Calling strippers “lap attendants?”

At one time, STEWARDESSES were required to be of a certain height, weight and attractiveness. Oh, and they were required to be female. I want to have my 2 oz minican of coke brought to me by someone who looks like ...

… not like ...

Oh well. Of course, being married now and probably with most of my flying time behind me, it doesn’t matter now anyhow.

So from KC to Pittsburgh I flew backwards! I had to hold my meal on my lap, whilst watching all the other passengers chow down, many with their mouths open. I did not get to see the in-flight presentation of “Ishtar” or whatever B-movie they were offering. And just what the heck was MY “crash position” I should assume in the (unlikely) event of a “water landing.”?

Alright, so you booked your flight and are not going to be bumped. You still have to show up hours before the flight for the check-in. You get in a massive queue and inch your bags through the cattle maze so that by the time you get to the desk you’re minutes away from boarding with no time for duty-free even though when you joined the queue it was three hours before the scheduled take-off … if in fact the plane will take off at its (unlikely) scheduled departure.

Before you get to the desk … and admit it …everyone does this … you size up your fellow travelers to see if you can play “spot the terrorist.” A quick scan of the mob and you’ve identified 12 turbans, at least half a dozen broken English speakers and three bearded guys who just look wrong.

And that’s just the airport staff. Go through Heathrow Airport’s passport control sometime and you’ll think you just landed in Mumbai. The guy checking your passport to see if you can legally enter the United Kingdom, looks about as British as a sun tan. They’ve got enough Indians running the joint to open their own tech support hotline.

Now once you reached the desk and found your ticket and your passport, you begin to sweat the thought of being overweight (in terms of baggage allowance I mean).

IF your bags are over the arbitrary (from airline-to-airline) weight allowance, you must pay a penalty per pound (or more likely per kilo). The logic behind this (the airlines tell us) is that excess weight requires excess fuel to fly the plane … and that costs money. But go ahead and try to ask them for a rebate for each kilo if your bag is UNDERweight. Shouldn’t the same logic apply? Less weight, less fuel, less money?

Keep in mind that the same baggage weight is offered to a 98 lb. woman that a 350 lb. man is also allowed. Doesn’t the combined weight of passenger AND luggage affect the required fuel? Or do the plane’s engines somehow know how to distinguish passenger weight from baggage weight?

And really, what does it matter what my bags way in relation to the cost of the fuel on the flight which I will board, when there’s every chance my bags will be on a different plane with a different (usually better) destination anyway?

I propose that they weight the passenger with his/her luggage, though I suppose many women would just flat out refuse to fly if this were the case.

But since they don’t weigh the passengers, whenever I fly and know I am going to be close to the weight allowance, I try to wear as much of my clothes as possible … and stuff my pockets with all the heaviest small items. They also rarely weigh carryon-on (which if I am not mistaken …goes on the same plane that they are so bloody concerned about the weight-to-fuel ratio). So stuff that with your heavy stuff too!

Then once you get through the metal detectors, just unload all your pockets into your carry-on.

Another way to beat the system is to remember although they have tight weight restrictions to your luggage … that with the possible of exception of (some) carry-on … there are virtually no restrictions on the volume or size of your bags. So you can take a couple of really long bags …say the kind that pole vaulters would tote their equipment in …. sew them together … and you’ve created a bag so long, that it can’t all fit on the bag weigher machine in one go.

Don’t even get me started on those ridiculous security questions!

The airlines are completely insensitive towards people’s fear of flying. This is primarily because people do not fear flying. They fear crashing. And the insensitivity begins at the check-in desk.

“Will Phoenix be your final destination?”

“Well that all depends on the skill of your pilots now doesn’t it?”

“Final Call” “Final Boarding” “Final Approach”

Everything sounds so final in airline speak, that I am always concerned that my pilot is just a little too anxious to meet Allah.

I saw a documentary recently about 911. They showed how the hijackers took over the cockpit and then immediately switched off the transponders. The transponders are the instruments that send information about the planes speed and altitude to air traffic control.

With them switched off, the plane can still be tracked on radar but the control towers will have no clue as to how high (or low) and how fast (or slow) the plane is traveling. All this begs one simple question – which the documentary failed to ask mind you – WHY and under WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES would a pilot WANT to be able to switch off the transponder? Why was that even an option?

OK … well I could go on but instead …. I offer you my …

Top 30 ways to make airline travel a little more fun

30) If flying to a warm weather destination, board the plane wearing a fur parka, scarf, mittens, ski trousers etc. When the pilot welcomes you aboard on the PA system, on your flight to where ever, stand up and shout, "Miami? SHIT WRONG PLANE!"

29) Half way to your destination, stand up and point out the window, desperately screaming in some made-up language. "DOWWA DA KABUNGA! DOWWA DA KABUNGA!"
28) If the pilot apologises for delays on the PA system, BOO loudly.
27) Present passport control home-made passport from cardboard and paper and a drawing of yourself for the picture, On the cover of this passport, make up the name of the nation you are from (EX: Flogmikistan) and say you own your own island which is technically an indepedent country.

26) Use a coleman cooler as your carry-on. Write on the side of it (in big letters) "HUMAN HEAD"

25) If you’re a black woman, check in using a white man’s passport. Keep a straight face as they look at you and at the picture in “your” passport … maybe drum your fingers on the desk impatiently and ask, “Is there a problem?”

24) Wear a full suit of armor, chain mail, two fistful of rings, a few body piercings, wrap your legs in aluminum foil and wear a set of about 300 keys on a janitor’s key ring dangling from your side. Get in line for the metal detector and walk through without taking anything off or putting anything in the little plastic basket. When they stop you, say, “Oh wait” …then take off your watch and start as if you’re going back to walk through again.

23) Wear a pilot’s uniform and carry a blind man’s white cane in one hand and an open bottle of Jack Daniels in the other. Walk around the airport bumping into travelers and ask them. “Will you be flying with me today?”

22) Board your plane holding a large clipboard. On the clipboard have a stack of paper … the top page of which says (in very large letters) “FAA - AIR CRASH STATISTICS ANALYSIS” Laugh loudly and frequently. Feel all around the door opening as you enter and act like you’re jotting some notes on your clipboard.

21) Bring a coffin with you to the check in desk and insist you can fit it in the overhead compartment.

20) Sit at the gate reading a book. Cover the book first with a book cover that says, “Home Made Bombs for Dummies”

19) When an airline goes on strike (and they all do) …go down to the airport when the stews are coming in to get their last paycheques. Stand at the door as they leave and say, “Bye-bye…bye-bye, bye-bye, bye-bye, bye-bye, bye-bye ….”

18) Dress as a priest. When you check in and they ask about seating preferences, ask, “Are there any unaccompanied young boys traveling today?”

17) If there is a long queue for the toilets aboard the plane, stand in the queue making loud straining noises …. They say … “Ahhhhhhh ….Never mind” and sit back down.

16) Wear a tuxedo and a chauffeur’s cap and stand with the rest of the chauffeurs at the arrivals gate. Hold a sign that says either, “His Holiness” … “U. Bin Laden” “DB Cooper” … or my personal favorite: “Any young girl with big tits who needs a lift”

15) In mid-flight …stand and bend to look out the window …then scream …throw yourself to the floor and get up saying, “THAT was close!”

14) Once on board, sit in your seat reading a copy of the Koran …whilst moving your lips as if praying. Take out a copy of your life insurance papers from your jacket and place it on your tray table then blast Cat Stevens’ music through your headphones.

13) Take a LOT of notes during the pre-flight safety pantomime. Immediately afterwards, raise your hands and ask a lot of questions about things like the lifeboat seating capacity, can asthma sufferers make use of the drop-down oxygen masks? Can you demonstrate how to use my seat belt again?

12) If you get to your seat before anyone else has arrived who will be sitting next to you …crazy glue his seat belt in the locked position.

11) During the flight, go into the toilets and come out wearing a superman costume.

10) If by chance, the check-in girl says you will be sitting in seat number C4 …just chuckle an evil chuckle and with a smug grin say, “how ironic.”

9) Wear a t-shirt that says “Future Mile High Club Member” and hang out by the toilets the whole flight. When a member of the opposite sex comes to the toilets, send them an inquisitive, inviting glance, motioning your head downward towards your t-shirt.

8) During an overnight flight, pretend to sleepwalk throughout the cabin. Do it zombie-like style … you know …with your arms outstretched in front of you,

7) Stand in the queue for the on-board toilet, holding a copy of Hustler magazine in one hand, and a box of tissues in the other. Groan loudly while in the toilet and be sure to leave behind an opened condom packet by the sink.

6) Whisper to the person in the next seat that you’re going to highjack the plane and take it to … (where ever the plane was headed to anyway).

5) When the stewardess comes around to collect the trash, hand her your empty bag of peanuts. Ask her, “Excuse me, were any nut products used in this item?” Then begin convulsing violently to the floor

4) If flying with a group, spontaneously begin doing the Macarena or the Electric Slide whilst in line for passport control. Act as if you don’t know each other. Have just two people start if off and the others join in randomly.

3) No matter what line of work you’re in …walk behind the stewardess as she is wheeling the duty free trolley down the aisle. When she finishes offering her wares to one row, immediately hand out business cards to that row and offer YOUR services or products. “Hi I was just wondering if you have enough home-owner’s insurance!” (You have a captive audience – take advantage of that)

2) Again, if flying with a group …try not to get your seats assigned all in the same part of the plane. Instead …sit scattered throughout the plane. And for the ENITRE length of the flight… each member of the group should loudly participate in a game of “MARCO” – “POLO”

1) Laugh loudly and hysterically during the in-flight movie – especially when inappropriate – like if they are showing “Schindler’s List” for example.